Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine named Johnny Manziel his starter Tuesday morning for the final six games of the season. Fresh off a strong start at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Manziel moved ahead of veteran Josh McCown on the depth chart, a switch that will either usher in a new era for the Browns or send them scrambling again to fill a troublesome position.
Manziel passed for a career-high 372 yards in a 30-9 loss to the Steelers.
After fumbling on his first play, Manziel regrouped and completed 33 of 45 passes with one touchdown. He didn’t lead the Browns (2-8) to victory, but Manziel showed he’s learning from his mistakes, growing more comfortable in the pocket and ready to take his biggest step yet.
“I wanted the chance to be the guy and that was always my goal,” said Manziel, who was watching film before Pettine told him the news. “I’m excited, I think as I should be. This is a great opportunity with a great group of guys that are going to go out and fight with me every week.”
Manziel also learned he will not be fined or suspended for his actions in a domestic incident last month in Avon, Ohio. The 22-year-old was questioned on Oct. 12 by police following an in-car argument with his girlfriend.
“I let him know that I’m not going to do anything that’s going to be a distraction to this team or be an embarrassment to the organization,” Manziel said. “I don’t think they’re going to have to worry about me this week.”
McCown signed a three-year, $14 million deal ($6.250 million guaranteed) in the spring knowing part of his mission was to mentor the 22-year-old Manziel.
“Josh has helped a lot,” Manziel said. “You saw Josh on the sideline this past week (in Pittsburgh). He was dialing up plays, giving up ideas and helping (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) with all the input.”
“He stayed in the pocket, and he did the things he needs to do to continue to grow and play the position,” McCown said of Manziel’s 372-yard effort Sunday. “That’s what you look for in an NFL quarterback — a guy who’ll stand in there on third-and-long and make those throws.”